“Hagar named Yahweh, who had been speaking to her, ‘You Are El Roi.’ She said, ‘This is the place where I watched the one who watches over me.’” Genesis 16:13
“I’m scared!”, Abigail cries as I push our three person stroller through the parking lot. The night sky shines above us at the end of a wonderful day of visiting with family. But Abigail’s joy has been replaced with fear, for she is afraid of the dark. I try to comfort her with all the things that mothers say, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. I won’t let anything happen to you. It’s just night time.” None of this brings any comfort to her and the whines and cries continue to ring out in the darkness.
Then comes one of those moments when you are both humbled and inspired by your children. My middle child Bethany (who is 3) says, “It’s okay Abigail. God is always watching you. He won’t let anything happen to you. No need to be afraid.” Tears well in my eyes as I am confronted with such a pure childlike faith.
As I load the girls into our messy mini-van, my heart is heavy with the question, “Do I really believe? Do I believe that God is always with me, watching over me?”. Unfortunately the answer is no. In my head, maybe, but definitely not in my heart. I admit that there have been times in my life where I have doubted His presence. It is only in hindsight that I come to realize He was there watching over me all along.
That is why I find the story of Hagar so amazing. Hagar, an egyptian slave whose mistress cast her off after using her to conceive a child. In the ancient world it was a normal practice to use a slave to conceive an heir if you were barren. Being accepted, does not make something easy, though. Can you imagine being in Hagar’s position? You are a slave, your master has sex and conceives a child with you and then your mistress becomes so jealous that she casts you off into the desert. You don’t know where you will go or where your next meal will come from.
Just when all hope seems to be lost, The Messenger of Yaweh finds her and gives her direction as to what to do next. He then gives her a promise to bless her with many descendants. Hagar encountered God in the desert and because the Lord saw her misery and provided for her in the midst of a desperate circumstance, she called him by a name unique in the Bible, “El Roi, the God Who Sees Me”.
Oh, that I would remember this through every moment of my day. El Roi is not just watching over me, but He SEES me. He knows me and cares about me even when I feel as though no one else does or that no one understands who I am.
We, like Hagar, are in the desert of our sinful and barren lives until El Roi meets us. He guides us through His Word in the Bible and has given us the promise of eternal life through His son Jesus Christ. El Roi sees us. He knows every hair on our head and sees the darkest place in our hearts and loves us anyway. El Roi is always watching over us and even though we cannot always see it at the time, He is working all things for good for those who love Him.
Have you had a personal encounter with El Roi? Can you share a time in your life where it was clear He was watching over you?
For Further Study: Genesis 16:1-6; 21:1-21, Psalm 139